Vino

Top drops under $20 (and over) and wine news from Joelle Thomson

Category: Cabernet Sauvignon (page 1 of 3)

Top 5 drops… top wines, tough choices

This is the eighth year running that the Gimblett Gravels 2015 Annual Vintage Selection has been put together as a case of the best 12 wines. Read on for my top five.

Arid, dry, stony ‘soils’ (if you could call them that) are the story of the 800 hectares of Gimblett Gravels (GG) vineyard area, which was first planted in grapes in 1981. Red grapes dominate  90% of the GG area…

 

The wines in the Gimblett Gravels 2015 Annual Vintage Selection were all selected from submissions made by wineries to the Australian based Master of Wine, Andrew Caillard.

He ranked and rated the wines to come up with the top 12 and then I ranked and rated them to come up with following five – my distillation of his favourites.

I hope you enjoy the line up and the read.

PS: Below the wine reviews (scroll down) you can read a snapshot that explains what The Gimblett Gravels 2015 Annual Vintage Selection is all about.

PPS: One complaint; I wish the producers would use screw caps on these wines, which would undoubtedly preserve them in more consistent condition and minimise the risk of possible wine faults.


You can buy the 2015 Gimblett Gravels Annual Vintage Selection from www.advintage.co.nz

 

Top Syrah – Le Sol

Craggy Range Syrah vines on the Gimblett Gravels in Hawke’s Bay at dusk…

2015 Craggy Range Le Sol Gimblett Gravels $136, 13.5% ABV

19/20

A top drop at a top price from the Gimblett Gravels; the name Le Sol refers to the Heritage Syrah clone, which winemaker Matt Stafford uses to make this bone dry, dark purple hued Syrah. The grapes were 100% hand harvested at 23.9 prix and fermented in open top French oak then aged in 30% new French barriques for 17 months. It’s unfined (so, technically, it could quality as vegan) and it was coarsely filtered. Now the technical stuff is out of the way, what does it taste like?
Incredibly dry, youthful and super powerful on the dark fruit flavoured front – it drinks well now, if you decant it at least three hours prior to drinking and serve in large glassware. Otherwise, stash it in a dark cool spot for at least 5 years. It will age superbly.

Cork closure.

Buy from Craggy Range

 

Sensational Syrah

2015 Ka Tahi Wines Rangatira Gimblett Gravels Reserve Syrah 13.4% ABV

19/20

This wine is a surprise, in so many ways. To start off with, it’s an unusual bottle because the traditional Bordeaux shape suggests Cabernet and Merlot rather than Syrah. And this may seem like a moot point (bottle shape doesn’t alter the taste, right?) but this wine is surprising in other ways too – its flavours verge on smooth soft caramel and far far nicer in terms of its riper flavours – dark fruit and dark plums and very smooth flavours and long finish… This is the wine of the five that I would opt to drink now, but there is no doubt it can age – for at least 5-6 years. A stunner.

Buy from Ka Tahi

 

Babich beauty

2015 Babich The Patriarch $79.99, 13.5% ABV

18.5/20

This wine lives up to its name; it’s an interesting blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 51%, Merlot 27%, and Malbec 22% (of which there’s precious little in New Zealand). The colour is deep ruby, opaque and stylistically this is an open wine right now with forward fruit flavours that intermingle with notes of spice (cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg…) and a full bodied, long smooth finish. It’s a lovely drink now and also needs to be decanted. It will age for at least 5-6 years.

Cork closure.

Buy from Babich Wines

 

Sacred Syrah

2015 Sacred Hill Deerstalkers Syrah $59.99, 13% ABV

18.5/20

Excellent complex Syrah with dark ruby colour, bone dry style and a full body with rich dark fruit. It could age well but is open to drinking and enjoying now too; thanks to its smooth, soft, velvety mouthfeel and powerful dark fruit flavours, which intermingle beautifully with notes of spice, cedar and a hint of pepper. It’s one of my top three wines of the 2015 Gimblett Gravels line up.

Cork closure.

Buy from https://sacredhill.com

 

The top value red – Vidal

2015 Vidal Reserve Syrah $24.99

18.5/20

Tasty. And a bargain to boot. This Syrah has to take the top prize when it comes to value for money, but don’t let that dissuade you from enjoying its massively complex, rich, dark, powerful and intense fruit flavours and complexity. It’s full bodied, youthfully complex, fruit forward but has great ageing potential for at least 5-6 years. It is best served in a large glass after it has been decanted for at least three hours.

Sealed with a screw cap.

Buy from Vidal Estate

 

Wine fact file

The Gimblett Gravels 2015 Annual Vintage Selection

The 2015 selection is the eighth consecutive one following the 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 vintages; its aim is to provide:

  • a perspective on the style of Gimblett Gravels wines from one year
  • to show the evolution and progression of the wines

The 2015 Annual Vintage Selection includes seven blended reds and five Syrahs, all independently selected from submissions made independently by wineries to Master of Wine Andrew Caillard.

The full line up of wines

Blended reds

2015 Babich Irongate, $39.95

2015 Babich The Patriarch, $79.95

2015 Mission Estate Reserve Cabernet Merlot $29

2015 Sacred Hill Brokenstone $49.99

2015 Stonecroft Cabernet Sauvignon $47

2015 Te Awa Single Estate Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon $29

2015 Villa Maria Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot $49.99

Syrahs

2015 Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah $135

2015 Ka Tahi Rangatira Syrah $29.99

2015 Sacred Hill Deerstalkers Syrah $59.99

2015 Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah $35

2015 Vidal Reserve Syrah $24.99

Prices quoted are recommended retail and do vary.

 

Breaking news… Craggy Range opens new cellar door

The cellar door of one of Hawke’s Bay’s largest wineries reopened last week after six weeks of refurbishment, which saw the space completely gutted to make way for a relaxed tasting experience.

Craggy Range general manager Aaron Drummond says the new cellar door, which opened this week, was modelled on its Northern Hemisphere counterparts in the Californian wine regions of the Sonoma and Napa valleys.

“The United States wine industry is much further advanced in delivering a great customer experience. Our visitors can still enjoy the more traditional tasting at the bench/bar, but for those that are interested in learning more about the wines, sitting down in a relaxed environment and tasting with the staff is a much more interesting and enjoyable experience.”

With the reopening of the cellar door, a new bites and platter menu has been designed for  Terroir restaurant by head chef Casey McDonald, who began this year. i

The Cellar Door is at the Giants Winery on Waimarama Road and is open seven days from 10am to 6pm.

The project is the first stage of a two part redesign for the cellar door and will be followed by the Terroir by Craggy Range restaurant in winter 2018. Design on both has been led by Paul Izzard from Izzard Design.

Top drop over $20… wine from a war zone

Wine from a war zone… tasting at Regional Wines & Spirits

5 September 2017

A fascinating wine from Lebanon – 2011 Hochar Pere et Fils

4 stars

Tastes like a cross between Nebbiolo and Chateauneuf du Pape, to me; high acid, firm tannins, red fruit, juicy long finish… succulent, bone dry, complex. This six year old wine has a complex range of flavours spanning red fruit (classic juicy flavours of a Chateauneuf du Pape), spice (cloves, cardamon) and black fruit (Cabernet Sauvignon). It has a medium body and high but balanced acidity adds freshness and length. Intriguing wine.

It’s a blend of Cinsault,Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache.

Top drop… Wine of the week(end)… d’Arenberg

Hand made takes on new meaning at d’Arenberg in McLaren Vale…

2014 d’Arenberg The High Trellis Cabernet Sauvignon $21-$24

Winemaker Toby Porter once told me he sometimes wished winemaking was easier, quickly adding that the rewards always outweigh the painstaking, time consuming, hands on work. His job is certainly not an easy one. A winemaker at the well known family owned winery, d’Arenberg in McLaren Vale, South Australia, he is incredibly hands-on – every single wine made there is produced not in a modern press but in a basket press. That’s no mean feat when production is relatively high, prices are relatively low and quality is uniformly above par – if you had to name a great Australian GSM (Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre blend) that’s worth beating a path to and possible to find without too much hassle, d’Arenberg it is. But this winery makes a wide range of wines and this deeply coloured Cabernet Sauvignon is so concentrated in fruit flavour, notes of cedar and oak nicely integrated into its impressive big bodied style that it’s remarkable to find it so accessibly priced.

My role… 

There’s something indulgent in talking about someone else’s hard work as a ‘wine of the week(end)’ but… someone has to do it and it’s a privilege not lost on yours truly.

Thanks to…

Toby and the d’Arenberg team for an insightful conversation over lunch in Wellington over a year ago now. And thanks to Negociants NZ for importing these exceptional wines to New Zealand.

 

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